Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Gay Marriage and the GL of Tennessee (and Georgia)

I have received disturbing news from Tennessee. It seems that a gay Brother recently married another man, as per the SCOTUS ruling on national gay marriage. Unfortunately, the Grand Lodge of Tennessee's code Sec. 4.2105 (27) specifically states that it is a Masonic offense to "To engage in lewd conduct. To promote or engage in homosexual activity. To cohabit immorally in a situation without the benefit of marriage", and the Grand Master is making moves to expel the Brother.

The Brother in question has issued a detailed response discussing the situation, and has sent copies to several lodges in his area, the Grand Master, and every grand lodge in the US plus the UGLE. He is not going to go quietly, and in light of the recent change in the legal determination of the Supreme Court, I can't say as I blame him. We have perhaps thousands of gay members around the world who have been active, upright Masons for centuries, and it's not the lodge's or Grand Lodge's business what goes on in his bedroom. As long as he's not proselytizing in open lodge, IT'S NONE OF OUR BUSINESS! 

Furthermore, official codes that outlaw homosexuality, like other races, are letting themselves in for a major lawsuit and grand lodges should remove such language as soon as possible.

To read the Brother's letter, see the .pdf at http://www.freemasonsfordummies.com/TennesseeGayMarriageCharges.pdf


Last week in Georgia, the Grand Master, Douglas McDonald, issued an edict with the endeavor to change their adultery provision to additionally read, "Homosexual activity with anyone subjects the offender to discipline."

Click image to enlarge:

I'm afraid there will be more of this. Brethren should consider that they have all probably been sitting in lodge with homosexuals since the day they became an EA. I strongly encourage Masons to check their state's code and take steps to remove these provisions. I'm no gay activist, but we live in different times now, and the Supreme Court has spoken on the subject. Like it or not, such rules may subject us to lawsuits, and I humbly beseech Grand Masters not to act rashly because homosexuality conflicts with their own personal views of morality. We have had thousands of gay members since our beginnings, almost entirely without incident or without bringing disgrace upon the Craft. What someone does in the privacy of their own bedrooms is none of our business, as long as they don't bring their politics into the lodge room.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Nebraska Masonic Museum Grand Opening

The Grand Lodge of Nebraska is opening its new Masonic library and museum. From the Omaha.com website today, an article by Blake Ursch: 
The Nebraska Masonic Foundation will cut the ribbon this weekend on a new museum documenting the Freemasons’ 158-year history in the state.
The grand opening of the foundation’s Masonic Museum and Research Library will be held from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday at the Masonic Grand Lodge of Nebraska, 301 N. Cotner Boulevard in Lincoln. The ribbon cutting is scheduled for 10 a.m.
The museum will be open to the public and will house books and historical artifacts donated by Masons over the years, according to a press release.
Highlights include about 2,000 books on philosophy, history and spirituality, as well as artifacts, such as a 3,000-year-old Egyptian setting maul (a type of hammer). Ancient weaponry, such as the halberd, a combined spear and battle ax, will also be on display.
A special exhibit will focus on the history of Prince Hall Masonry, a predominantly African-American branch of Freemasonry. Representatives from Nebraska’s Prince Hall lodges will attend the opening.
In another exhibit, patrons can learn about the Trans-Mississippi and International Exposition, a world’s fair held in Omaha in 1898.
The $500,000 Grand Lodge building had a cornerstone-laying ceremony in June 2013. The museum, previously in a smaller location on 10th Street in Lincoln, has been moved into the new building.
The new facility provides a better display space as well as humidity and temperature controls, said Russ Reno, former grand master of the lodge.
Organizers are hoping to increase the museum’s inventory by generating support from Masonic lodges throughout the state.

Contact the writer: 402-444-3131, blake.ursch@owh.com,twitter.com/blakeursch_owh

Monday, August 31, 2015

PA Academy of Masonic Knowledge 10/17

The 2016 Fall session of the Academy of Masonic Knowledge will be held on Saturday, October 17, in the Deike Auditorium of the Freemasons Cultural Center on the campus of the Masonic Village in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania. Registration will open at 8:30 AM with the program beginning at 9:30 AM. A lunch (requested contribution of $10) will be served at noon and the program will be completed by 3:00 p.m. All Masons are welcome to attend. Dress is coat and tie.

The program for the day includes: 

Professor Kenneth Loiselle will speak on topics from his research and his recently published book Brotherly Love: Freemasonry and Male Friendship in Enlightenment France in a lecture entitled: From Enlightenment to Revolution: Masonic Friendship in Eighteenth-Century France.
Kenneth Loiselle, PhD, is an Associate Professor of history and international studies at Trinity University in San Antonio, TX. Prof. Loiselle's research focuses on the relationship between the Enlightenment and the political revolutions that unfolded during the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the history of friendship and private life, and French colonialism in the Americas. He is presently conducting research on a book co-authored with Pierre-Yves Beaurepaire on Old Regime Freemasonry.

Karen Kidd will speak on Co-Freemasonry in North America: its beginnings in Pennsylvania, history and contemporary practice, and its relationship to Male-craft and Female-craft Freemasonry.
Karen Kidd is the sitting Right Worshipful Master of Shemesh Lodge No. 13 under the Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry and an internationally recognized author on the history of Co-Freemasonry in America. Her published works include On Holy Groud: A History of the Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry and Haunted Chambers: the Lives of Early Women Freemasons. She has also published articles in Heredom, the Transactions of the Scottish Rite Research Society.

Pre-registration is required! To pre-register, please send your name, address, Lodge number and telephone by e-mail to: AMKSecretary@pagrandlodge.org

Monday, August 17, 2015

A Sad Circumstance

I received the following heartbreaking letter today:

Mr. Hodapp, 
My name is A. B., and I recently started reading your book, "Freemasons for Dummies". Unfortunately, I haven't gotten very far in the book, for a rather sad reason. 
Since several of my family members have been Masons and also Shriners, I was interested in possibly joining my local lodge here in ________. 
Per the information I was given at a public Shriner's event, I attended my first Masonic meeting about a month ago in order to find out more information about the organization. At the meeting, I asked if the fact that I have a physical disability would preclude me from joining the organization, and was told that it was a matter to be discussed in private.  
Approximately ten days passed, and I received a phone call from the Worshipful Master of the Lodge, who wanted to meet with me to discuss my admittance. The Worshipful Master was very kind, and we talked for several hours about many different topics. However, at the end of our meeting, I was informed that I would not be able to join the organization. Although very few specifics were offered, I was told that there were components to the initiation ceremony that I would not be able to do, and that, by order of the Grand Lodge, no exception or allowance could be made. The Worshipful Master said that there was wording actually written into the constitution of the organization which in some way precluded my admittance, but I wasn't given very much information. Apparently, the Worshipful Master had contacted the Grand Lodge in __________; he said he attempted to go before Jurisprudence, and finally met with the master of the lodge, and was told to drop the issue, and that I could not be admitted. 
Disgusted, I sent a lengthy email to the Grand Lodge, stating the situation. No reply has been provided. 
From what I've read in your book, it sounds as though the decision of the Grand Lodge is entirely final and binding within the state where that lodge has jurisdiction. So, it would appear that I am barred from joining any lodge in the state of _________ because of a physical disability.However, according to many other informational sources I have found, exceptions are often made for individuals with various physical disabilities and other conditions. 
My question for you is this: Do I have any other recourse in my situation, given the answer I was given by the local Worshipful Master and his conversation with the Grand Lodge of _________? It seems very strange to me and also short-sighted for an organization that prides itself on being of the utmost moral and ethical character to behave in such a discriminatory manner, especially without even providing me with concrete facts relating to the decision. At no time was I asked questions about the specifics of my disability; I was simply dismissed from consideration and told I could not join.Do you happen to know of anything in the Masonic constitution or charter that would preclude someone with a physical disability from being accepted into the order? I find it very hard to believe that my family, or any one else for that matter, would knowingly be a member of an organization that would be so callous. I should also mention that I meet all of the other stated requirements set forth both in your book and on the ________ website for admission. 
Any information you can give me would be very much appreciated. I have no desire to cause a problem for anyone or become a nuisance, but I do not feel that I've been treated fairly in this situation, and I would hate to think that something similar has happened to other good people.Thank you very much for your time and attention.
In Indiana we have a wonderful lodge called Bartimaeus Lodge U. D. that exists solely for the purpose of initiating, passing and raising men with disabilities that would normally preclude them from participating in the ceremonies of Masonry. Membership is drawn from existing Masons in the state, and the lodge has dispensation to assist any Indiana lodge with this situation. They have brought in men who are blind, confined to wheelchairs, and everything in between.

In fact, one of the most active and well known Indiana Masons is paralyzed and confined to a wheelchair, and he was Master of his lodge a few years ago.

I know that many grand lodges have over the years held to a doctrine of physical perfection (Indiana actually had a law until the 1970s that any man with a truss was ineligible for the degrees of Masonry). But with the passage of time and modern day awareness of people with disabilities, I would think grand lodges would relax this requirement. It seems tragic to turn away an excited man who has a family history with the fraternity because he can't kneel or walk a floor with squared corners. Especially with so many wounded veterans in this country. Can't we come up to date, brethren?


I just got off the phone with the Grand Master of the state in question, and he said they make all sorts of accommodations for physical disabilities. Apparently the gentleman in question was extremely vitriolic with the Master and the grand lodge office, and was not the sort of man that would make a good Mason. Apparently he was nice to me, but not so nice to those involved.

The man was upset. The Master was misinformed and told the man that no accommodation could be made. The man erupted and was scathing in his correspondence to Grand Lodge. It was decided that he was too much of a hothead to pursue this any farther. The Grand Master said his letter to him would have had him up on charges, had he been a Mason.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Masonic Awareness At The Speed of Light New Address

Masonic Awareness at the Speed of Light has a new web address. Click here for an incredible array of Masonic education lectures.  The Worldwide Exemplification of Freemasonry 2011 Lecture Series was a free presentation by the Grand Lodge of Indiana F&AM, beginning January 1, 2011 and running through December 31, 2011, with the forum’s “Intenders” presenting the story of the fraternity since 287 AD to present. It is the world's first exclusive Masonic video library with almost 60 different lectures.

This was a labor of love by Indiana Freemason Al McClelland, and he did a masterful job of assembling the greatest Masonic scholars alive to present their papers. Give it a look. You're bound to find something to interest you.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Speaking in Louisville Next Week

I will be speaking in Louisville, KY on Thursday, August 20th at Buechel Lodge No. 896. This will be their Past Masters night and will meet at the new Kosair Shrine Center, with dinner at 6:30PM and my talk at 7:30. I will be speaking on the Masonic origins and misconceptions of Washington DC. I'm looking forward to being there. The Shrine is located at 4120 Bardstown Road in Louisville.

The next week, I am traveling to Cleveland, Ohio to go to the Cleveland Clinic for three days to see if their doctors can determine why my back hurts all the time, and why I pace the living room for twelve hours a day.  After four years, no one has been able to figure this out, so fingers crossed.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Shrine Outlaws Confederate Battle Flag

The Shrine has outlawed the Confederate battle flag in its parades and events:

Special Order No. 4
Series 2015-2016
To the Potentates, Officers and Members of Shriners International, fraternal greetings: Attention has been drawn to the political debate over the Confederate Battle Flag in the wake of the recent incident in Charleston, SC. As a result, in my opinion, as Imperial Potentate, I believe it is in the best interest of the Order and the Nobility that no temple, unit, club or member of Shriners International shall display in any form the Confederate Battle Flag or any image that reasonably can be construed as a reference to the Confederate Battle Flag.
Under the circumstances, it is my opinion, as the Imperial Potentate of Shriners International, that the following order with respect to the Potentates, Officers and Members of Shriners International should be, and hereby is issued.
Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in me by § 206.5(a) (1) and (5) of the bylaws of Shriners International, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED:
No Noble (in his capacity as a member of Shriners International) or club, unit, organization of Nobles or affiliated or appendant organizations of Shriners International, shall display any Confederate Battle Flag or any image that reasonably can be construed as a reference to the Confederate Battle Flag in Shrine or Civic Parades, Temple activities or in Shrine or non-Shrine public appearances.
No Noble (in his capacity as a member of Shriners International) or club, unit, organization of Nobles or affiliated or appendant organizations of Shriners International, shall participate in non-Shrine public appearances in which a Confederate Battle Flag or any image that reasonably can be construed as a reference to the Confederate Battle Flag is expected to be displayed by the organizer, promoter or by those in control of the premises or facility of the non-Shrine event.
Dated this 10th day of August, 2015
Jerry G. Gantt, Imperial Potentate
ATTEST: Jack H. Jones, Imperial Recorder

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Duane Vaught Elected Grand Master of Knights Templar

My friend and brother Sir Knight Duane Lee Vaught, PGC, PGM, has been elected as Grand Master of the Grand Encampment of Knights Templar of the United Stated of America. Congratulations on such an historic moment for Duane and for all Sir Knights in Indiana! I'm looking forward to a great three years in Templary.

Mark Koltko-Rivera Speaking in NYC Aug. 23rd

Mark E. Koltko-RiveraIf you are in the New York City area, come out and see my friend and Brother Mark Koltko-Rivera at the Museum of Interesting Things on Sunday, August 23rd at 4:00PM, at the Prince Street Loft. The topic will be "Freemasonry in 19th Century New York: A True Story of Murder and Resurrection." Please note that seating is quite limited and that advance tickets are a must.
Come and explore the history of Freemasonry with the New York 19th Century Society! From mysterious origins to current practice, the speaker Dr. Mark Kotlko-Rivera will discuss the origins and activities of the ancient order of Freemasons, commonly know as the Masons. PLUS FREE admission to the Secret Speakeasy immediately following, where you can see and handle real Masonic antiques and artifacts and enjoy lively discussion over drinks with fellow 19th-century enthusiasts!
The world’s oldest and largest fraternal organization, the Freemasons entered the world of nineeteenth-century New York as a respected group that claimed many civic, religious, and political leaders among its numbers. By the late 1820s, Freemasonry was in tatters, under accusations of having committed ritual murder in an upstate community, and it became the focus of the first single-issue political party in American history, the Anti-Masonic Party. Hounded almost to extinction, Masons regrouped in the 1840s, and began a rise to national prominence resulting in the Age of Fraternalism later in the century, when thousands of Masons marched publicly on the streets of Manhattan at regular intervals, and Masons publicly dedicated the Statue of Liberty and Cleopatra’s Needle. Yet by the end of the century, the seeds had been sown for the rumors that plague Freemasonry to this day: accusations of devil worship and attempts at world domination.

Dr. Mark Koltko-Rivera will go behind the events to explain the forces behind Masonry’s expansion, persecution, and triumph, in 19th century New York. Dr. Koltko-Rivera holds a doctoral degree in psychology from NYU. The author of Freemasonry: An Introduction (Tarcher/Penguin, 2011), he is a 32nd degree Scottish Rite Freemason and a Masonic Knight Templar. He has appeared as an authority about Freemasonry on such television shows as Hunting the Lost Symbol, America’s Book of Secrets, Brad Melzer’s Decoded, and Ancient Aliens.

All proceeds benefit the New York 19th Century Society, a non-profit organization that promotes the study and understanding of life in 19th-century New York City through participatory workshops for the public.

Buy your tickets at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2135482

Event takes place at The Museum of Interesting Things
Secret Speakeasy
177 Prince Str 3rd flr NYC (between Thompson & Sullivan streets)

All tickets also include free entry to the Secret Speakeasy at 6pm
Tickets $15 in advance & $20 at the door

Friday, August 07, 2015

2016 Prestonian Lecturer Coming to the US in January

According to my friend and Brother Dr. Brent Morris, Dr. Richard Berman, will be the 2016 Prestonian Lecturer from Britain. He will arrive in Atlanta for the American History Association’s annual meeting on January 5th or 6th and will give a paper to them on Friday, January 8. He would be happy to speak at US lodges while he’s here. This is a unique opportunity for you to arrange a visit to hear an outstanding, world-class speaker on Freemasonry.

If you are interested, you should contact Bro. Ric directly at rab@sabrecorp.com and see how your dates fit into his schedule. Your costs would include airfare for him to travel to your lodge and return to an international airport, lodging for when he’s with you, and an honorarium would be nice (Ric says he doesn’t need one, but he IS the Prestonian Lecturer). All Prestonian Lecturers sell copies of their lecture to raise funds for their designated charity, and thus he would want to sell (and sign!) books at your venue.

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

George Washington Masonic Memorial Named National Landmark

The federal government named Alexandria’s George Washington Masonic National Memorial a national landmark today.
Here’s what the National Park Service and Interior Department had to say about it, from the news release issued today:
Towering over the first president’s hometown of Alexandria, the George Washington Masonic Lodge National Memorial is a prominent feature of the Washington, D.C. area skyline.
Today, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis announced the memorial as one of four newly designated national historic landmarks. The designation recognizes sites that possess exceptional value and quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States.
“Though very different from one another, these places reflect the creatively and ingenuity of the American spirit,” said National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis. “National historic landmarks are an example of how the mission of the National Park Service extends beyond park boundaries to recognize additional places of national significance in communities throughout the country.”
In naming the Masonic Temple as a national landmark, the government said:
The George Washington Masonic National Memorial stands among the most architecturally significant projects to honor George Washington and one of the boldest private efforts to memorialize him. The Grand Lodges of the states and territories, which usually operate independently, joined forces to build this national memorial. This eclectic building combines neoclassical architecture common to American memorials and civic buildings with a modern skyscraper design.

See story here.

Today G. Washington Became A Master Mason

On this day in 1753, George Washington became a Master Mason, the highest rank in Freemasonry. His promotion occurred at the Masonic lodge in his hometown of Fredericksburg, Virginia. He was 21 at the time, awaiting his first military commission.

Derived from practices and rituals in the medieval guild system, freemasonry gained popularity in the 18th century, especially in Britain. British Masons organized their first North American chapter in 1731 in Pennsylvania. Members are required to express their belief in a supreme being and in the immortality of the soul. Masons are also expected to obey civil laws, hold to high moral standards and contribute to charities.
For Washington, joining the Masons served a rite of passage and a reflection of his dedication to civic responsibility.

After the American Revolution, some Masons floated the notion of organizing a “Grand Lodge of the United States,” with Washington becoming its first grand master. But the idea never gained traction. Soon, independent grand lodges formed themselves within each state.

Because of their mysterious rites and closely held secrets, Masons aroused suspicion in the young republic that Washington led.

After Washington’s death in 1799, the renamed Alexandria-Washington Lodge became the repository of many of his artifacts. The lodge rooms, however, proved inadequate for the display and storage of the former president’s memorabilia. A fire in the lodge in 1871 destroyed many of the items.

In 1922, ground was broken in Alexandria, Virginia, for a masonic memorial to Washington. The 36-acre site was chosen because it followed a tradition to locate masonic temples on hilltops. It was situated on land that Thomas Jefferson once proposed as the ideal site for the nation’s capital.

Work on the nine-story George Washington Masonic National Memorial was completed in 1970. It is open to the public.


Friday, July 17, 2015

Levant Preceptory in Dayton, OH on Saturday

Levant Preceptory, Indiana's period costume Knight Templar team, will confer the Order of the Temple at the Dayton Masonic Center, at 525 W. Riverview Avenue in Dayton, Ohio at 12:30 PM on Saturday, July 18, 2015. We operate as a degree team under the charter of Indianapolis' Raper Commandery No. 1, but we draw members from all over Indiana. We travel to Indiana and surrounding states and confer only the Order of the Temple. Knights purchase their own regalia and take pride in excellence of work. 

If you are in or around Dayton this Saturday, stop in and see us. When we cross swords with real steel broadswords, you'll know it!

Unfortunately, I am headed for a convention in New York and won't be able to attend this time. Good luck to all of my fellow Levant knights!

English Masons Who Are City Councilors Must Declare Membership

From the Fenland Citizen today. I thought this madness was outlawed by the European Union Court on Civil Rights, but apparently England has found a loophole. Apparently it's no longer cops and judges who have to register their Masonic memberships, it's city council members. So it continues

Cambridgeshire county councillors and officers could soon be expected to declare their membership of the Freemasons.

Leader of the council and March ward member Steve Count has submitted the motion.

The Standards Board for England has ruled that membership of the Freemasons must be declared under the councillors’ Code of Conduct.
Mr Count said the council does not currently have a written requirement for Freemason membership to be declared and is not expecting any opposition to the motion.
He said: “Quite a few people have said over the years that they are Freemasons. They are not fazed by that fact being revealed.
“I think that the public would like to know that we operate in a transparent way.”
Mr Count’s motion, which will go before the next full council meeting on Tuesday, July 21, calls for all councillors and senior officers to include their membership on the register of interest.
It also calls for councillors and officers to declare if their spouse is a member of the organisation.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Masonic Speakers

Are you looking to improve your Masonic speeches? The Masonic Service Association has prepared a new Masonic Speaker Kit, pulling together 8 useful publications into a package to provide savings for users. Bring your Masonic remarks to a higher level and add confidence to your speaking opportunities. See details at www.msana.com

H/T George Braatz

Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Georgia Trying For Masonic License Plates

Worshipful Brother Brian Germann in Georgia tells me that Masons there are trying to get Masonic license plates for their state. So far, they have only gotten 350 orders. Come on, Georgia brethren! The state only requires 1000 orders to put the plates in production. There aren't 1000 brethren out of nearly 40,000 Georgia Freemasons willing to spend a couple of extra bucks to show their pride in the fraternity? Proceeds go to the Georgia Masonic Charities Foundation, as detailed on the order form available here: http://glofga.org/files/msptag.pdf With a thousand plates, that's an extra $10,000 to the Foundation every year, pretty painlessly.

Freemason tags are a great way to get our fraternity in front of the eyes of the community every day, and dozens of states are successfully doing this every year.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Travis Simpkins

A gentleman named Travis Simpkins sent me a note today that contained praise for Freemasons For Dummies, along with a sketch he made of me. He said he is going to petition a lodge at the end of the summer (apparently they're 'dark' in July and August).

I have received literally hundreds of messages like this over the years saying they read the Dummies book and can't wait to join, which is always a deeply humbling experience for me every time it happens. But this is the first time someone has made a portrait of me to go with it.

I told him that he had real talent if he could make me look good...

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Liberian Presidential Candidate Declares Country Needs Mason At The Helm

The African nation of Liberia has a Mason running for President who thinks the country needs to elect a Freemason to save it from it's ills. From the Global News Network website:
Liberia’s respected businessman Benoni Urey, owner of several businesses in Liberia has resolved to solicit the total support among members of his fraternity, the Freemason or Masonic craft, a secret society that was established in the country during the 1800s in his bid for the Liberian presidency come 2017.
Speaking as Orator at the celebration of Saint John the Baptist Day during the week in Monrovia, Mr. Urey said that the much anticipated new Liberia where there would be economic opportunities, social amenities for all, vibrant health and education sectors, justice, and infrastructural development, which he claimed the Unity Party led government has failed to deliver, must be brought to reality by a government led by a mason.
Mr. Urey believes the dictates of that government would emanate from the Grand Masonic Temple, popularly known as “Up the Hill,” located on West Benson Street in Monrovia.
Serving as an orator at the celebration of Saint John the Baptist Day on Wednesday in Monrovia, Mr. Urey, who is a strong ally of former President Charles Taylor, indicated that the Free Masons must produce the next president that will build a new Liberian, stressing, “We must build a new Liberia because there is a need to improve the Masonic craft and our country,” he said.
The Feast Day was organized by 14 of the subordinate lodges of the Free Masons. Mr. Urey spoke on the theme, “The Role of the Free Mason in the New Liberia.”
“The new government that is to succeed this government in 2018 must be led by a mason. Brethren, I want to let you know that the new Liberia that we all are striving to build for our people must be led by one of our kind,” Mr. Urey declared to a standing ovation of his fellow masons, who were all splendidly outfitted in the craft attires.
He also noted that in the 2017 elections, members of the society will get involved to ensure that the right people are elected.
Mr. Urey indicated that members of the Freemason society in Liberia have been silent for too long as they watch the country go in the wrong direction, but said it is now time for them to stand up and speak out.
Their inability to speak against the ills in the society makes them equally as guilty as those who carried on vices against the state, Urey indicated.
“We have a health sector that is so bad off that many of our people die on a daily basis while we are breeding a generation of people who lack the requisite education and the system is at its lowest level ever in the history of the country,” said Urey.
“The new Liberia must have a God fearing man and the new leader must be his brothers’ keeper. He must be an upright man,” Urey said, indicating that those attributes clearly put masons at an advantage because their craft teaches them those noble principles.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Fraternal Industry Facing Financial Challenges

Freemasonry is a brotherhood with a fascinating heritage, symbolism, and secrets that bind us to each other. It is  truly about the dedication of one brother to another. Fortunately, we didn't get into the insurance business, and our retirement homes have been finding new ways to reach out to the public for business, or they have sold off or closed. The rest of the fraternal world has not been so lucky.
A.M. Best, an insurance rating company, has released a report that focuses on the challenges being faced by the U.S. fraternal industry, a segment of not-for-profit organizations that offer life insurance and retirement products.
According to the Best’s Special Report titled, “U.S. Fraternal Industry Facing Challenging Demographics,” A.M. Best has identified several significant challenges over the past decade that are expected to place negative ratings pressure on these fraternal benefit societies (fraternals). These issues include changing demographics, which lead to declining membership; expanding distribution; a shift toward interest-sensitive product lines; pressure on operating margins; and heightened regulatory and technology costs.
Fraternals offer life insurance and retirement products to support members and fund community support through charitable donations, volunteerism and educational support. Fraternals face some challenges that are similar to the issues facing the general U.S. life industry, namely, the need to modernize distribution systems, achieve top-line revenue growth, increase market penetration (particularly in the middle income market), and maintain relevance and appeal to younger generations.
While the rating trend generally remains stable, negative rating actions may occur for those fraternals with declining membership, lower capitalization ratios, a shifting business mix toward heightened interest sensitivity and negative earnings trends.
For a full copy of this special report, please visit:http://www3.ambest.com/bestweek/purchase.asp?record_code=238812. Sorry, but you have to sign up and pay for it.

Indiana Masons: Freemasons and the Indianapolis Colts 9/21

ATTENTION ALL INDIANA MASONS! The Grand Lodge of Indiana is excited to announce that it has once again partnered with the Indianapolis Colts for an evening of football, fellowship, and fun!  This year, Grand Master William Reiners has raised the bar by securing a regular season game, and to make it even more exciting, it is the season home opener for the Colts.  Everyone is encouraged to bring family and friends, because the more the merrier!  Register Here
The Colts and Grand Lodge have teamed up to offer several opportunities to be a part of the event this year.  Grand Lodge is offering three different ticketing options in order to suit everyone’s budget.  The Colts have invited Indiana Freemasonry to perform the flag ceremony again, and this year’s flag ceremony will be televised live on ESPN!  Everyone who participates in the flag ceremony will receive a FREE masonic Colts jersey.  Additional jerseys will be made available for purchase as well.We also have a VIP Pre-party planned with food, and a cash bar. Last year was a huge success, and we hope you and your lodge will mark your calendar for this event and join us for an evening of fun, fellowship and celebration of Freemasonry!
Of course, you are wondering what date you need to mark! Monday, September 21 at 8:30pm EST the Indianapolis Colts will take on the New York Jets in their at home season opener, and the Indiana Freemasons will be there in full force! Bring the family, support the Craft by displaying the American Flag on national television, enjoy the VIP Pre-party and then watch our Colts open the season with a victory over the Jets! 
Before we get too far, let’s look at all of the details of this event, so that you can easily share them with every member of your lodge.
Tickets to the Game
First things first, you need a ticket for the event. We have several levels available. 
            • $59.00 tickets located in the 600 section
            • $66.00 tickets located in the 500 section
            • $109.00 tickets located in the 300 section
There are limited amounts of tickets in each section, and once they are gone, they are gone. As you will see with all of these details, regular season games are in high demand, so be sure to get involved as soon as possible before it sells out.
Participating in the Flag Ceremony
This year we can only allow 250 people on the Flag Ceremony. This is due to the restriction on regular season games and televised ceremonies. There are some guidelines we must follow:
            • You must indicate your participation on the registration form when you purchase your tickets.
            • No one under 18 may participate in the Flag Ceremony
            • You must purchase a ticket to participate in the Flag Ceremony, we cannot accomodate season ticket holders due to the limited availability of the passes.The first 250 to sign up will be the only ones allowed to participate, no exceptions.
            • You must be physically able to participate. It is not easy, and involves running. Please, if you have any difficulty, do not endanger yourself in this ceremony.
            • You must arrive by 5pm at the stadium for the practice of the Ceremony.
            • All Flag Ceremony Participants will receive a FREE masonic Colts Jersey. This Jersey must be worn during the ceremony, and will be picked up at the event ONLY.
            • We must enter and exit the field quickly, or there will be heavy fines from the NFL and the networks.
Exclusive VIP Pre-Party
Let’s tailgate in style! We will have a VIP Pre-party available to everyone who wishes to attend for only $35. The party will be from 6pm to 8pm, so that all who are in the Flag Ceremony practice may attend if they wish, and everyone will be in their seats in time to watch the pre-game events. The party will include in its ticket price: Johnsonville Bratwurst, Gourmet Hamburger Bar, Served with all the trimmings. Apple Jalapeno Cole Slaw, Red Bliss Potato Salad, Lays Ruffled Potato Chips, Rold Gold Pretzels, Roselyn Recipe Chocolate Fudge Brownies, Assorted Gourmet Cookies and choice of Coke, Diet Coke, and Sprite. This will be inside the stadium, with food and a Cash Bar. 
Addition Masonic Colts Jerseys
For those who are not participating in the Flag Ceremony, you can purchase a Masonic Colts Jersey for only $25. These Jerseys will be shipped directly to the primary registrants address and shipping is included in the price. All shirts must be ordered by the deadline of July 31st, no orders will be taken after that date.
Register ONLINE NOW!
Registration is now online at www.indianafreemasons.com/colts. Please make sure you read all the instructions carefully to ensure you get exactly what you order in a timely fashion. Let’s take some time to relax and enjoy our friends and brothers, and take Freemasonry out into public view. Let’s celebrate this great fraternity, and represent it on national television. Let’s make it a day of fun and friends while we cheer on our Colts! 

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Masonic Podcast: Freemasonry In The Bakken

Be sure to check out the podcast from North Dakota, Freemasonry In The Bakken on the web or on iTunes (subscribe on itunes at www.BakkenMasons.com/itunes). It is hosted by Master Masons and they discuss many things concerning the fraternity, both about Masons living in North Dakota, and Freemasonry in general. They also feature interviews with influential Masons on various topics. I was interviewed on a recent broadcast, and they do a terrific job. These guys have jumped into this with both feet and are really rejuvenating their lodge and North Dakota Masonry. Hosted by Dr. Bob Baer, Nolan Overton, and Tyler Hall, they currently have 22 episodes on topics that will interest more than just North Dakota Masons. Check them out!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Speaking at the Grand Lodge of North Dakota This Weekend

I'll be speaking this weekend at the Grand Lodge of North Dakota AF&AM, including a talk at the Bismarck public library about what it's like to write a Dummies book. I'm speaking both Friday and Saturday, June 12th and 13th at the Radisson Hotel in Bismarck. Hope all my North Dakota brethren can make it!

The Second Summer International Masonic Workshop In Athens, Greece 8/26-30

 The Second Summer 
International Masonic Workshop 
Athens, Greece 
Wednesday August 26th - Sunday August 30th 2015 

 Indicative topics for papers and presentations 
Historical aspects of Freemasonry | Freemasonry and the Enlightenment | Freemasonry in the World: English, Irish, Scottish, Continental European, Scandinavian, American etc. | Masonic Rituals and Symbolism | Biographies | Masonic International Relations: Regularity, Inter-visitation, Recognition | Masonophobia | Research Lodges | Masonic Heritage: Museums, Libraries & Archives | Heraldic in Freemasonry | Ancient & Medieval Guilds | Fraternalism | Beyond the Craft Orders - Appendant Orders | Women Freemasons | Mixed, Co-Masonry | Revolutions and Freemasonry | Esoteric aspects of Freemasonry | Religion and Freemasonry | Freemasonry and new Technologies | Fine Arts and Freemasonry | Literature and Freemasonry | Freemasonry in Music | The Masonic Charity | Book Review 

Guest speakers 
Robert Bashford 
Dr. Ric Berman 
Dr. Mike Kearsley 

Keynote Speakers 
Chris McClintock 
Dr. Remzi Sanver 
Chris Sariyiannides 

Organised by 
Philotecton Society 

Detailed program: 

 Call for short papers 
Every participant wishing to make a short presentation should submit the following information: 
- Name and nationality - A title and an abstract of maximum 150 words not later than June 30th, 2015 
- Contact information (postal and email address, telephone number) 
- Any other information considered essential by him/her (e.g. masonic affiliation, academic institution etc.) 
The application should be sent to the email address: simm@masonic-events.org 
The candidates will receive a notification as to whether or not their abstract has been accepted by July 15th, 2015. Any application submitted later than June 30th, 2015 will be disregarded. 

The Workshop is not affiliated to any masonic or academic body. 
 The Workshop is not in any way a tyled event nor is there going to be any associated tyled meetings. 

Participation to the Second Summer International Masonic Workshop does not require affiliation to any masonic or academic body, nor does it confer any masonic membership. 

Article About Masons In UAE Paper

An article appeared in the United Arab Emirates paper The National about the writer's grandfather being a Mason. It's brief, but gives a thumbnail sketch of Freemasonry in the Middle East. I never knew the UAE and Iraq could ever be so tolerant of Masons.

Check out Secret Societies Fascinate As They Keep Us Guessing by Rym Ghazal:

A relative who was almost 90 passed away recently, and despite efforts to find out more, he stubbornly took his “secret” with him.Well, it wasn’t much of a secret that he was a Freemason, as he always wore his Masonic ring and several details from his life indicated he was part of this special fraternity.But I still say “secret” because Freemasonry began in medieval Europe as a guild for stonemasons and acquired a reputation for secrecy.This relative is believed to have joined the Freemasons via his work at the Iraq Petroleum Company, known before 1929 as the Turkish Petroleum Company. He used to travel and set up businesses in places like Liberia, the US and elsewhere. But he seemed to always have “help” whenever he went.When asked how one joined and other details about the fraternity, he would say no more than that they are “like brothers” and not all Freemasons are very famous and very rich.In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Freemasonry was quite popular in the Middle East, with many important figures such as Lebanon’s first president Charles Debbas, Lebanese poet Khalil Gibran and the late King Hussein of Jordan rumoured to be part of the organisation.There is no room to discuss its complete history but according to several sources, Scots established the first lodge in the Middle East. It was in Aden in 1850. The first Masonic Lodge in Lebanon was chartered by the Grand Lodge of Scotland in 1861 and given the name Palestine Lodge No. 415. A lodge in Palestine followed in 1873. The movement went through different phases of activity and inactivity. Today of course one can google the Freemasons and even buy Masonic rings online, but I doubt they are authentic. The public likes to analyse and look for hidden symbols, what they mean and where they originated.

Read the rest of the article here.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Levant Preceptory in Dayton, OH 7/18/2015

Levant Preceptory will be conferring the Order of the Temple in Medieval period gear in Dayton, OH on Saturday, July 18, 2015. The Grand Commandery of Kentucky and the Grand Commandery of Ohio will confer the Illustrious Order of the Red Cross and Order of Malta respectively beginning at 9:30 A.M. Eastern Daylight Time at the Dayton Masonic Center located at 573 W. Riverside Ave. in Dayton. If you have never seen this Order performed by Levant, you are in for a treat. It truly sets the mood of the degree in its proper setting, and leaves a lasting impression, especially for the initiate. Seventy pounds of chainmaille armor, coif, steel helmets and broadswords is an impressive sight. Come out to Dayton and see them.

For more information about Levant Preceptory, see the website or contact Jim Dillman, our fearless leader.

German and Turkish Editions of My Books Now Available

I just received from Wiley the revised edition of Freemasons For Dummies translated into German, and Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies For Dummies translated into Turkish. Freimaurer Für Dummies and Komplo Teorileri ve Gizli Cemiyetler For Dummies Meraklisina are both now available in those countries.

Woo hoo!

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Fire By Arsonist Destroys Trenton, FL Masonic Lodge

Fire has destroyed the Masonic lodge in Trenton, FL and a suspect has been arrested. Read the story by Cindy Swirco from the Gainesville Sun website:

The Masonic lodge in Trenton was destroyed by fire and a suspected arsonist arrested Monday after he was seen taking pictures or video of the blaze, according to City Manager Taylor Brown.
Charged was Jonathan Harrell, who told police he had taken steps to become a Mason but quit the process when he was arrested on unrelated charges.
A resident called 911 to report the fire about 4:19 a.m. at the lodge at 125 NE 2nd Ave.
Trenton police arrived and saw what appeared to be white spray paint of the Masonic logo, stars and the words “truth not light of false” and “The Vigilant.”
The Trenton officer photographed the graffiti before it was destroyed by the fire, Brown said in a press release.
Firefighters arrived and said they found the lodge fully engulfed in flames but worked to keep it from spreading to neighboring buildings. Officers said they spotted Harrell, who was wanted for another crime, photographing the fire amid a crowd of onlookers.
Fire investigators determined the blaze had been set in the front hallway with flammable liquids.
Harrell was later tracked down and interviewed. Brown said Harrell admitted to starting the fire.

Video from Massachusetts

Some happy brethren from Massachusetts made this video recently.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Speaking in California in June

I'll be speaking at Burbank Lodge on June 20th at 4:30PM. The next day I'll be at Newport Mesa Lodge in Newport Beach at 9AM, open to all. Please come out and see me at one or the other. (Click posters to enlarge.)